Continuing on with guns you MUST to shoot before you die, I feel like talking about handguns. There are a few handguns out there, like their rifle counterparts, that are too important or too good to not take the chance and throw some lead down range.
I can’t think of a better place to start than the ever-important 1911—a pistol that has served the U.S. military in one capacity or another since its adoption in 1911. Designed by the legendary firearm savant John Moses Browning, it has been as reliable as a good dog to soldiers, law enforcement officers, and even legally armed citizens for over 100 years. The crisp trigger and short reset of the 1911 is one of the greatest pistol triggers and simply shouldn’t be missed. Never mind the all-too-often reference to the 1911 grip angle that some shooters have proclaimed as “the one.” Though I shoot other pistols a touch better, I myself find the trigger to be pretty good, but your mileage may vary.
Click here to read more about the 1911.
Beretta 92FS (M9)
Since I started with the 1911, I couldn’t leave the 92FS off the list. Since I first saw Lethal Weapon in the theater many moons ago, I knew I had to own one of these wonder nines. It has ridden shotgun with thousands of cops, most notably the LAPD, and been the companion of every soldier to serve since the Reagan administration. I love the Beretta 92 in spite of all the people that detest it for whatever misguided reason they may have. Go shoot one that isn’t worn out, and then tell me you hate it. The ergonomics are pretty darned good and it points pretty well. The fact that you can get 18-round flush-fit magazines for it makes for a pretty powerful package.
Click here to read more about the Beretta 92.
Single Action Revolver in .45 Long Colt
How could I leave the revolver that helped win the west off my list? It would have been wrong and I would have applauded the first reader to call me a pudding brain. Shooting a nice replica of a Colt Single Action Army (AKA Peacemaker) is nothing short of a religious experience. The recoil is pleasant, with a gentle push and lift instead of being more snappy like a modern 9mm load or the ever-snappy .40 S&W. The trigger on many of the revolvers is damned near thought operated, offering the holy grail of crisp and light single-action triggers. With the cost of the original well into the couple of thousand-dollar range, it pays to take a look at some of the replicas such as the one from Cimarron—priced attractively at under $600 while still featuring those four distinctive clicks that spell out the word C-O-L-T.
Click here to read more about the single-action revolver.
.357 Magnum Double-Action Revolver
I want more than anything to tell you to pick up a Model 19 or Model 27 and put a bunch of wadcutters through it, but I am sadly reminded that those are considered the classic line of revolvers these days. Instead, just about any K-frame Smith and Wesson revolver will do. (Please, for the love of God do not pick up a J-frame revolver in .357 Mag., and then tell me I am a bit slow for recommending a revolver in the powerful .357.) The .357 K-frame was the Glock of its day, being found on the hip of just about every cop on the street. The one-shot stop rate was much higher with these natural pointing firearms. Shoot one coming out of a holster and it is easy to see why. As soon as the pistol clears the holster it feels like an extension the arm, the trigger feels like it is riding on ball bearings until the crisp and predictable break lets one of those 158-grain projectiles fly at the target—striking the A box every time. Not only is it a wonderful shooting experience, but it makes me want to grow a pretty epic mustache.
Click here to read more about the .357 Magnum cartridge.
Being honest with you guys, I wanted to list the Ruger Mark series of pistols here, but Ruger, in its infinite wisdom, has decided it wants to make selling their guns incredibly hard for many retailers. The Browning Buckmark it is instead, still a solid choice, but not my first. Simple .22 pistols like the Buckmark have been used to introduce new shooters to handguns for generations and continue to do so for generations to come—this makes it a must shoot. My little .22 pistol is a constant companion for me when I hit the range. Not only do I shoot it better than any handgun I own, but also it allows me to work on the fundamentals without forking over .30 cents per trigger pull.
There you have my choices for five handguns you have to shoot. I am sure there will be a part two because narrowing down the “must shoot” firearms is pretty hard. It seems that no matter the category I come up with, there are eight or so guns that I think are equally important and struggle with boiling it down to only five.
If you think I am wrong about one because it is just turrble, let me know in the comments what I should I should have chosen and why.
Click here to read “5 Rifles You Should Shoot Before You Die.” Click here to read “5 Shotguns You Should Shoot Before You Die.”
Left out probably the best handgun ever – Browning Hi Power!
Have been reading with great interest, comments about the legitimacy of .45 Colt as opposed to .45 Long Colt and the existence of a .45 Short Colt.
Did my ‘home work’. From Wikipedia;s LIST OF HANDGUN CARTRIDGES: .45 Colt Government (Short Colt): .454 in., or 11.5 mm in diameter. 1.100 in., or 27.9 mm in length. .45 Colt (Long Colt): .455 in., or 11.5 mm in diameter, 1.290 in., or 32.8 mm in length. Source: Barnes Bullets, page 309, 2000 copy. From: TOPTENZ WEB site, listing the Top 10 Ridiculously Huge Handguns. At # 9, Desert Eagle Revolver in .45 Long Colt/.410 Shotgun Load Pistol. There were other cases that used ‘Long Colt’ in describing the .45 Colt Cartridge, including photos of very old ammo boxes. For those of you that already have your mind made up and don’t want to be confused by facts, hold fast to your mis-beliefs, but don’t slander those that have done the research and/or have grown up using revolvers that fire the .45 Long Colt. Unfortunately, I never had the honor, but my father did, of knowing Grant Johnson, a U.S. Deputy Marshal, on whom Clint Eastwood’s role in Hang ‘Em High, was based. My father said, he always referred to the Colt Pistol, he carried, as a .45 Long Colt. For those that want the truth, do the research for yourself. It is truly just a mouse click away.
Mr. D.A.,Nor will I argue semantic’s with you, you can look it up just like I did. Panic attack ? Never heard of her.( Although I had a Big Mac attack a few years ago). As far as my “alleged expertise” go’es I’ll stack it up against your’s any day of the week. As for the freedom to call it what you want to ?” Go for it . you do have the right to be wrong.
Mr. Edwards. I am not going to argue semantics with you. .45 Colt, was, is and will be called Long Colt as long as it exists. Regardless of your alleged expertise, I have bought . 45 Colt that was marked on the box as, .45 Long Colt. Everyone on Earth that has owned a .45 Colt pistol has at one time or another called it .45 Long Colt. Wikipedia calls it Long Colt, in explaining the difference between .45 Smith & Wesson and .45 Colt. I have know those that work for Colt. They call it Long Colt! SO! What ever gets you through your delusions, I really don’t give a rats’ ass.
I agree that someone should not come on here saying “Please, please quit calling the .45 colt the .45 long colt” as if they’re having a panic attack. I used to own a Taurus Judge, and I bought .45 Long Colt boxes all the time.
Plus we have the freedom to call these things anything we want to call them. Since I personally hate the .45 ACP, if I want to call it the .45 Stubby or the .45 Low Velocity, I can do that.
During the Second World War, My Father had to “Requisition” Parts for the M1, M2, M3, M4, and so on’s, was a “Logistics’ Nightmare”. The Problem was, there SO MANY “Pieces of Equipment” that had the Same Designation. Example M1, could mean Rifle, Carbine, Ammunition, Submachine Gun, and so on’s. If you weren’t Specific on what you were Ordering, you could get a “Brassiere”, Canteen, Pencils instead. I think, sometime after 1949 is when Designations started to change…
Hey Sam, Glock is putting out a New Wheel Gun “SOON” (Whatever that Means). Called the G-21R Revolver in .45acp. No price on it yet, I ask CTD weather they plan to sell. Just waiting for an “E”, just surprised it’s NOT in .45 GAP. REAL SWEET LOOKING TOO, “Futuristic”. SEC…
Wow that’s amazing. A .45 ACP revolver. Yuk! Glock should just stick to what they do best.
I had fun with a REAL revolver this past weekend. My Ruger Stainless Super Redhawk 44 magnum. I was practicing double-action shooting, even with some Buffalo Bore 300gr wadcutters I wanted to get out of my inventory because they don’t work in my Desert Eagle. Try shooting Buffalo Bore double-action some day……..IF you want to torture your hand.
Sorry Sam, the .45 “Low Velocity” is already taken. The .45AR (Auto Rim) (.452/11.48×22.87). 230-grain @ 750ft/sec to 855ft/sec. CORBON still produces them. SEC…
You Sound Surprised? The US has had Many .45 ACP Revolvers, Like the Colt M1905, M1909, M1917, Ruger Blackhawk, Redhawk, S&W 625, Taurus Tracker 455, and so on…
Almost Forgot, Pre-Ban M1911 Taylor Mk.1 28-round Metal Snail Drum Magazines in .45ACP. Will fit the .45 ACP Hi-Point Carbine, but some Tweeking of the Magazine is Required. YouTube can help you there and a Dremel Tool…
Dark Angel the .45 COLT was something like 2 years ahead of the the S&W .45 Schofield . It’s the word”LONG’ that do’es not belong in the designation of the .45 COLT because COLT never made a .45 SHORT.I know this because:1 I’m a cartridge collector and 2, I just happen to have a copy of Frank C. Barnes ,CARTRIDGES OF THE WORLD ( and I have about 250 cartridges).I also have box’es from a bygone era when folks who bought ammo knew what bullet fit the gun they were shooting.
@ Mike Edwards.
Actually, Colt DID. But it was NEVER called the .45 “SC” (Short Colt), tt was called the .45 Government or the (.451/11.43×22.8) or simply .45acp…
First new gun I ever bought was a model 36 Chiefs Special, less than $70.00 as I remember. Found a model 19 S&W in 357 at a local gun show.Guess the first owner didn’t like the kick as it looked like it was hardly used.Put a Hogue Monogrip on it. Shoots great.
For those who asked about the Bren Ten, it is supposed to be re-introduced by an arms company called Vltor located in Tucson, AZ, possibly in 2016, and is said to be an exact remake of the original. If it matches the original, it will be destined to be one of the finest handguns ever made.
A couple more for consideration:
6. Desert Eagle in 44mag, or 50ae, if you prefer
7. S&W X-Frames, either the 460 or 500 mags – incidentally, these are still on my to do list…
Got to agree on the DE. We love both our .44 and our .357. Amazing guns.
Please, please quit calling the .45 colt the .45 long colt as they never made a .45 short colt. It goes like this, .45 colt,,45 scofield(S&W) .45 auto(for the ACP). Thank you,
Actually, the Schofield (correct spelling) full name is: S&W 1875 Schofield Top Break .45 Revolver, and was considered at the time to be more practical and advanced than the iconic Colt Peacemaker. The Peacemaker came into its own when it was produced in .44 caliber so it matched the Winchester and Henry lever-action .44 caliber rifles (an obvious advantage when their handgun and rifle used the same ammo).
Currently, S&W did it again (more practical & advanced) with their introduction of their M&P series, smooth double-action only, striker fired, adjustable grips, great sights, good ergonomics, and just plain nice (and fun) to shoot in .40 S&W. And for those who appreciate a good subcompact “pocket pistol” the new Sig-Sauer P938 9mm is nothing less than great.
I have owed or at least shot almost everyone of the handguns listed by those who have commented, and many not listed (ranging from the little Colt Jr. .25 ACP to the awe inspiring .50 cal. and a whole bunch in between) and fully appreciate the wide range of opinions. It would be boring as hell if we all liked exactly the same thing.
My poor spelling do’es not alter the fact that there is no such thing as a .45 Long Colt. And I to have shot a lot of the listed guns and more that aren’t listed from the tiny .17 up to and including the 106 mm recoilless
Mike Edwards. There is in fact a .45 Long Colt or LC. At 11.48x35R, it was called this to differentiate it from the . 45 Schofield, or Smith & Wesson, which is a shorter round, but could be chambered in .45 Colt Pistols.
Go to buy ammo and ask for .45 Long Colt. A knowing clerk with bring you want you need and in most cases, the box will be marked .45 Long Colt or .45 LC. If you want to ‘fact-check’ go to Wikipedia and look for both .45 Colt (Long Colt) and .45 Schofield, or Smith & Wesson.
Both Dark Angel & Mike Edwards are technically correct. The “.45 Long Colt” was often shortened to just “.45 Colt.” Way back, probably before either of you were born, the ammo companies listed in their ammo listings .45 Long Colt, but sometimes just listing it as .45 Colt…to differeniate it from the shorter .45 Schofield round and the relatively new .45 ACP round. As the popularity of the .45 ACP grew it eventually surpassed both of the other rounds. There was a similar situation with the .38 (i.e., .38 Short and .38 Special). Even the 9mm had a similar situation (i.e., 9mm Parabellum and the 9mm Short aka the .380 Auto, plus there is a 9mm “long”- a submachine gun round). And then there is the 10mm “short” – what Jeff Cooper called the .40 S&W. I remember seeing .45 Long Colt still listed with some ammo companies as late as the 1960’s. These days it is probably very difficult (if not impossible) to find factory loaded .45 Long Colt (or .45 Colt if you prefer), and even more difficult to find factory loaded .45 Schofield. Ammo companies stop making that for which there is little or no demand. The only “old” round still available is the .38-40…and I own one of those too (but I wisely carry a Colt .45 ACP).
Thanks Doc for the clarification. Sounds like you really know your stuff. Did you happen to know Jeff Cooper?
Thanks. Yes, I personally knew Jeff Cooper. I have shot along side him, just the two of us (not part of a class), several times at his Gunsite ranch. I’ve had the privilege of being in his walk-in “vault” and seeing his entire collection, including his “Baby” (a scout rifle) and other fine arms. Fun times!
The .45 Colt Short (11.48x35R) made it’s debut in 1872 for the Colt “Peacemaker”. The .45 Schofield (11.5×27.9R) in 1875. And .45 Government/ACP (11.43×22.8R) in 1904…
I own a Taurus. 44 magnum with a ported barrel and the felt recoil is less than that of my 1911 and every bit as accurate.
All great choices! My own bucket list is to shoot every caliber of a classic or other high quality handgun. I own many handguns, but my favorite is my Colt Python, everyone should have a chance to shoot one of them.
I agree that the Single Action Army is clearly a bucket list item, but it doesn’t have to be a .45. I have a Sheriff’s model in .38-.40, which was a very popular caliber. It actually measures.41 caliber and at the time it came out Colt made a rifle in .38-.40 caliber. The cartridges for the pistol and rifle are interchangeable, meaning when you were on the trail, you only needed one size. I have also shot a .45 caliber SSA Sheriff’s model and couldn’t tell the difference – they are both wonderful revolvers to shoot. The only problem is the scarcity and cost of ammo which is why when we shoot, I only let my wife (and myself) shoot it once!
Anguillaboy. Don’t know if you’ve done an internet search for .38-40 ammo, or not. Old West Scrounger carries this ammo. Don’t know the price, but came across the caliber when I was searching for .41 Rimfire. Too, I heard the NORMA was loading ‘exotic’ handgun ammo. You might look there and recently, though I have checked it out, heard the TULA or is that TULLA out of Russia was loading some ‘exotic’ ammo. Try, Cheaper Than Dirt, they have been carrying some ‘Cowboy Action’ ammo. You might find what you need there.
I completely agree with your choice of the 1911. I have 2 1911’s my father brought home from WW2, both made in 1943, 1 Colt and 1 Remington Rand. He had the Remington tuned with adjustable sights and the barrel bushing tightened. Both have fired thousands of rounds still shoot 3 inch groups at 25 yds. And, they have never failed to fire.. jwb
My five for consideration would be:
1. Colt 1911 (or a 1911 of your choice) in 45acp
2. Colt Single Action Army in 45LC
3. S&W Model 29 in 44mag, of course
4. Colt Python in 357mag
5. Glock 17 in 9mm (I shoot this better than the Beretta 92FS)
Truth is, I can think of several more that would be on my list, but I’m holding to the limit of 5.
Nice list. Had a WW II era 1911 Frankenstein gun, loose as a goose but shot OK and I wish I had it back. Regarding the M9, meh. Give me a Springfield, any Springfield. My first handgun was a 4″ Security Six, Ruger’s answer to the K-frame. Still have it after 41 years. Still shoots straight after thousands of rounds (some not so prudent hand loads included). Ruger’s tougher but the K-frame has a superior DA trigger. Some things can’t be improved upon and I’d take an old K or L Smith any day. Wish I had my Model 65-4 back, and my 29. My single actions were the Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk, similar shooting experience but without the history. Again, wish I had ’em back. I’ve got my eye on a Buckmark as the next gun, so I’m glad to see it on your list!
You young bucks out there- here’s a lesson for you. Don’t sell or trade anything! Get a big gun safe, quit your expensive habits and hobbies, and scrimp and save for that new weapon. But hold on the the old ones. They’ll be classics some day, and so will you.
For me, the Ruger Black Hawk would be included, and I agree about the Ruger Mark series. I have a Buckmark and several Mark II’s. I much prefer the Rugers.
Well, certainly the 1911, but maybe instead of the M27 revolver, what about the M&P Model 10? The 27 is a beautiful revolver, but for decades the Model 10 was THE revolver in police holsters across the nation.
Can’t believe you didn’t include the Luger, or P08. It’s every bit as iconic as the 1911.
And of course the Glock 17 should have been included, as it marked the beginning of the transition to striker fired polymer pistols, and pretty much dominates the police market today.
If you’re going to include a rimfire pistol, and you probably should, I would give the nod to the Ruger MK I.
They aren’t the greatest for anything, but every handgun shooter needs to try a black powder revolver at some point. You will appreciate the history behind that great .357 double action you carry, and you will be surprised at how effective those primitive guns could be.
Michael. Black powder revolvers are great and truly fun to shoot. Too, in most states, they are legal to carry concealed without a CCW. By federal law and most state laws, they are considered either, Historic, manufactured before 1886 (this includes modern reproductions, if Black Powder, only). Or, they are considered non-weapons. Silly, I know, considering the thousands of people killed by b.p. weapons. Still, if you want to carry and don’t want to hassle with a CCW, it’s the way to go. Still, I would check local laws. Effective, YES, but limited in range, to 25-30 yards.
I’d have to include a Glock, likely in place of the Buckmark or the double-action Smith. A strike-fired pistol doesn’t feel the same as a hammer-fired one. I think you need both on the list.
A Berretta 92FS, the S&W 19(nickel plated), a Ruger MKIII, Ruger Vaquero and Colt Commander in my collection and I shoot them all; I say I’ll die a happy man.
the Glock line should have been included in your odd analysis.
Glock are better guns than all the others combined you displayed in your list.
THANK YOU for posting something I actually agree with!!!!!!!!!!!!
Your post is simple and short, yet SO TRUE!!!!
I love my Glock 21. It’s the one gun I would take if I could only take one.
The next hand gun I want to throw some rounds out of is the Auto Mag, .30 Caliber Carbine. Basically a rifle round out of a hand gun. Also, shooting my Colt Anaconda. 44 Mag with 6″ barrel , is a religious experience if you get to shoot it at night. I do agree with most of your list though.
Russ Cronk. The Auto Mag was, is and will remain a piece of junk. If you a reliable .30 Carbine, Ruger made a Black Hawk in this round, 7 in. barrel (?). But, I warn you now, to wear good hearing protection. The .30 Carbine was designed for an 18 in. barrel carbine. Coming out of the shorter barrel, the muzzle blast will damn-near break your ear drums. I learned this the hard way, no ear protection. My ears rang for several hours.
The real AutoMag as in .44 AMP is an interesting piece. I have one and I shot it one and then put it away. Awesome gun…in the looks department anyway. Dirty Harry made it famous an he did with the S&W model 29. I never had an interest in any other “AutoMag” but haven’t heard any rave reviews about it either.
I agree with most on the list. It should be the Ruger Standard instead of the Browning as it is a great gun. I would add the S&W model 29 to the list. It was after all the “most powerful handgun in the world”. and a great shooter.
I feel like the Luger and the Glock 17 need to be on this list, just for their historical significance. They could probably replace the .357 revolver and that Browning.
For me that list would be the H&K VP9, Mauser C96, S&W 629, H&K USP and 1911A1.. Obviously I stand guilty of being an H&K fanboy.
Add the S&W Schofield Model 3.
Good group of handguns. I’ve shot all of them except the Buckmark. I also like shooting my Glock 17 and Colt Woodsman, but hell, now that I think about it I can’t remember any gun I didn’t enjoy shooting. Of course I’ve never shot a short barreled 10 ga.
“Of course I’ve never shot a short barreled 10 ga.”
Now THAT would be a . . . er, exciting. 😉
I would have listed the Colt Python .357 w/ 6 in. barrel. Also Browning BR 9 ( HIPOWER). I also like the S&W model 41 .22 target pistol
not exactly the list I would’ve put together, doesn’t set much of a goal since all of these guns are at your local rental range.
My list goes
Webly Fosbery semi-automatic revolver (yes it’s real, and I have shot one)
Colt Python .357
1895 Nagant revolver (to make you appreciate every other handgun action)
Browning Hi Power (Browning’s last and greatest handgun design)
If you’re gonna make a list of things to do before you do, it should be at least somewhat challenging. But that’s just my opinion
LoneWolfLuke. Know the Webly Forsby is real. Have seen them, but never handle one. As for the Nagant revolver, was it double action, or double action only, without the hammer spur. Both were fine revolvers, in my estimation, but like to be able to cock a revolver. The ‘gas-seal’ action does take a bit of getting accustom to, other wise, it might feel sloppy. Want sloppy in a revolver, try the Nambu revolver. It will make a person appreciate even the Nagant.
Desert Eagle 50 CAL
Colt Python 357
S&W X frame in 460 0r 50 CAL
All good for scoots and giggles.
Ruger Super Redhawk .44 Magnum, Colt Combat Commander .45acp, Glock 21 .45 acp
Browning…..some great guns, but I’ll never buy another. I was a small dealer years ago and ordered a Hi Power 9mm in the nitron finish. I came with adjustable sights. When I received it, the rear sight had been bent from a hard impact. The box was in perfect shape and had never been opened. I called my distributor who told me to call Browning. I did so and was completely blown off. Browning said I probably did the damage (NOT TRUE) and they would do nothing. Never has been or will be another Browning product of any kind in my life.
Can understand your Hi Power disappointment. Back in the 80s I saved for months and bought a new Hi Power. Took it to the range and it got a group like a handful of gravel. Far better hand gunners than me got the same results. Rather than buy a new Bar-Sto barrel, I traded it off. A gun with that kind of a price tag should come with a quality barrel.
I was issued a Browning Hi Power on my first contract in Iraq. It was a pretty sorry gun. It went bang just fine, but never did feel right, and I always hated the magazine safety. Definitely not a combat handgun to me. I was glad when I was able to turn it in for a Glock 17. It worked great like Glocks always do.
I think the Hi Power made this list because it was Browning’s last design (as far as i know), but it isn’t a great handgun by any stretch.
Perhaps a sixth should be added. Everyone should experience the 300gr, 454 Casull from Freedom Arms. A ferocious piece of jewelry. Feels like you’re still holding the hand grenade you’ve just pulled the pin on, but forgot to throw! Haha
I own a 1911 by Remington along with a 1911 “junk gun” assembled by a local gunsmith from aftermarket parts and salvaged pieces (it is the best shooting hand gun I own), a Browning Buckmark and a S&W .357 revolver (mod 686-7), so sorta 3 of the five. Also in my “collection” is a Beretta PX4/9mm which is smooth and accurate. I have never shot a “Peacemaker” or M9, but hope to handle both. I like your choice of five. My last two accumulated pieces are a Taurus Tracker .22 LR (because anyone owning hand guns should own a .22 revolver) and a recently acquired Walther CCP 9mm which is also a very smooth shooting firearm. I am getting ready to move and my new home has enough property to allow shooting .22’s and shotguns safely. I feel very fortunately.
A couple of yours are on my list:
M1911 in .45 ACP
Walther PP, PPK, or PPK/S in 7.65mm/.32 ACP
Single Action Army regardless of caliber or make
Any SIG P22(x) series pistol with traditional DA/SA trigger
I own all but the buckmark. I did however have a stainless Ruger Mk II and regret selling it everytime it comes to mind which is often. I would add the Single Six using the unfluted cylinder for 22 mag rounds to the list…very accurate and just plain fun to shoot.
GLOCK 18 full auto
Ruger super redhawk 44mag
Magnum research 45-70
My list would include the first three but I would definitely have the WWII German Luger. Of all my handguns it is still one of my favorite to shoot. The fifth, I haven’t chosen yet. Maybe the HK USP 45. Not sure if it is a top five or not, but definitely a fun fun to shoot. Great list!
I would like to throw my two cents in on top ten guns to fire on your bucket list. I can not believe that no one offered the High Standard Series 103 Space Gun, or the High Standard Victor, along with the Olympic Model.. I will agree the S&W Model 27 & 29 is a must. The Colt Gold Cup Match Target 1911.45 but before that, the original 1911 By Mr. Browning. The Colt Woodsman Match target would be on the list as well. Number 9 would be the .357 Dan Wesson with 8″ barrel, and finally for number 10 the Peace Maker by Samuel Colt.
I would include a Webley MK VI .455 as one of the guns you should shoot before you die. Awesome, historical revolver.
Seemed to start out as “iconic,” if so dump the Buckmark or the Beretta and put the Luger on there. In addition, it is the grand dad of ergonomic.
Great List, however there can be no list of great handguns that doesn’t start with the COLT PYTHON period. Also, the Luger 9mm should never be off that list either.
Browning Hi-Power and the CZ-75 because even Col. Cooper was impressed with it!
How could you leave off the HK USP. While in the service the beretta was standard issue but in my unit you could choose your own carry as long as you qualify expert. I chose the HK USP. This is hands down one of the best weapons systems I have ever had the pleasure to take downrange.
WW1 9 mm. Luger. Deadly accurate and perfect pointing.
Colt .36 cal open top black powder cap and ball pistol.
Dirty Harry .44 Magnum S&W–the recoil will make your day!
Original Colt .380 pocket pistol. Small and reliable.
For a list of 5, nice choices, I’m in 4/5. Funny, I live in a town that just can’t own enough Rugers– but I respect the Buckmark. I always enjoy articles like this because its like enjoying a box of chocolates. Your first five picks will likely differ from mine. But in the end, we polish off the whole box and everyone leaves smiling. Handguns have always been like that for me. The old, the new, the future… it all taste so dang good. It’s almost Thanksgiving. Let’s open up another box shall we? 🙂
I have a M1911-A1 and Beretta 92 FS. Both are great guns, but my wife has her grandfather’s M1911 issued to him in France in 1918. That old gun went ti WWII, Korea and Vietnam with her Dad. It rattles when you shake it but is deadly accurate.
I’m not a fan of the 380 ACP but just changed my mind when I bought a Browning M1911-380. It’s a real gun.
Man did you make my day. Out of your list of 5 I have all but the Peacemaker. I bought each one for different reasons, but I believed that they were “must haves.” Over the years I have repeatedly stated that out of all the weapons I own, if I had to depend on just one, it would be the .45.
It has always “just felt right” in my hands and came up on target the most natural of any of them.
A nice selection although the pick of Browning over Ruger surprises me. The gun I would add is the H&K P7. A very unique handgun and I don’t think you could find an easier to shoot or more accurate gun in that size anywhere. Not to mention the “coolness” factor.
And you didn’t include the Mauser Broomhandle??
Cotter, the Mauser ‘Broom-Handle’, was a magnificent weapon for it time and is still a favorite of military collectors. It was even better configured in .45 ACP, as was done for a Chinese War Lord in the late 19th, early 20th century. Have had the pleasure of handling both versions. It was, however, overly complicated and prone to stoppage, even breakage, at the most inconvenient times. FYI. If you like the Mauser, you should try the Borchard and the Bergman, which were it’s predecessors.
The Broomhandle is probably one of the most iconic handguns ever built, and has been a favorite gun of the bad guy in Lord knows how many movies. I’m happy to say I got to shoot one that belonged to a fellow officer when I was in the Army.
Mikial. Don’t forget Star Wars. The ‘Blaster’ that Han Solo and others carried were based on the ‘Broom Handle’. True, it has always had a futuristic appearance and a menacing quality that made it the perfect looking weapon for cinematic ‘bad guys’.
Yeah, I noticed the similarity. Very cool stuff.
I’m five for five…..
Of course there are several others (LOL) that might be considered …..
ANY Desert Eagle but the .50 and Baby Desert Eagle Compact, all steel in .40 for sure.
Ruger MK I, II and/or III as well as the 22/45
The .44 Wilbey
The .44 AutoMag
And the PMR30
I’m sur I’ve missed one or two ……
@ Pete in Alaska.
Hey Pete, Just recently bought a Kel-Tec PMR-30. A “Bitch Buy”, just trying to Find a Play that ACTUALLY Sold Them and NOT tell you UP-Front that they Don’t Actually Have them IN STOCK. Swapped Out the .22 wmr (.224/5.7×26.8) for the .22 tcm (.224/5.7×26), “Slightly” more recoil but manageable. And about 17% more reach, doesn’t sound like much. But I’ll take what I can Get. Also, “Bondic”, Liquid Plastic Welder. Great First-Aid accessory, as a Alternative to Superglue as a Liquid Suture, NON TOXIC. UV-LED Applicator Light, actually “Cure’s” the Liquid Compound. Cost’s about 20-Bucks. Hope Your Doing Well, SEC…
I don’t agree with this list of 5 guns. The only handguns I can think of that I had to get, had to try, and was happy I did, were my Ruger Super Redhawk 44 magnum, and my Desert Eagle 50.
Regarding this list, I owned a Beretta 92FS because I liked it’s look and feel, but when it couldn’t outperform my Glock 10mm’s (full size and compact) in accuracy, I asked what am I doing with this thing, and I sold it.
Regarding the S&W .357, sure it looks cool and I’ll bet it would be very smooth to shoot, but the author said this in his own words: “The .357 K-frame was the Glock of its day”……………So I say no thanks, I’ll stick with my Glock 10mm that has a 15 round magazine.
Obviously, most of us have shot the 1911 and the Beretta, Both icons and we own both of them. Have shot some single action revolvers. Fun but not something I’d take into a gun fight.
I feel honored that I was able to shoot a Python .357, so check that off the list. Better than a S&W, to me at least. The author’s decision to include the Browning over the Ruger seems less a consideration of great guns and more sour grapes because he’s upset at Ruger. Well, I own the Ruger and my wife always shoots a few mags out of it first before we move on to the heavier stuff. An amazing gun.
As for some of the other guns mentioned by other commentators . . . i agree with the Browning Hi-Power, although I used one in Iraq for a while and didn’t particularly like it.
I’ve carried all 5 on duty or taken them into the woods but missed your listing of any S&W 10mm. Try the 1066. It’s all stainless, double action, powerful, available with fully adjustable rear sights, 10 shots, semi-auto, quick to load, takes Hogue rubber grips, properly checkered, ambidextrous slide safety and is handsome at the same time.
Thanks for mentioning the S&W 1066. It looked it up just now, and I didn’t even know this existed at one point in time.
Well, I am OK – mostly. Have never owned/shot a Colt single-action. However, I have owned and loved several Ruger Blackhawks. Browning Buckmark??? Heavens no! Long live Ruger’s Mark III series! Have lots of experience there. S&W? MANY, MANY! Do I go to “Shooters’ Hell” if I never even picked up a Beretta? WOW! Lots of great ones out there. Guess I’ll just have to keep buying larger safes!
Having shot and/or own them all, I pretty much agree. I also agree that the CZ-75 and the Browning Hi-Power should be included, and add to the mix S&W K-38 in .38 Special and Ruger Single Six in .22 Magnum (both of which are superbly accurate revolvers). But the real treat is to shoot a Bren 10 in 10mm Auto & in .45 ACP…if you are lucky enough to find one (especially with the original Norma ammo – Hot Stuff!!!).
Yes…the Bren Ten in 10mm. Perfect ergonomics, great sights, very powerful but very easy to shoot, very reliable and extremely accurate. Even better than the 1911A1, which is great. The Col. had it right! The perfect match to a good rifle (such as the Springfield M1A1 in .308) and a good 12 gauge shotgun (such as the Remington 870 or the Mossberg 500). And if you are in to “just for the fun of it” the Scolfield Top Break revolver is fun (in spite of it being a little muzzle heavy).
As a 10mm fan for the past 10 years, I wish I could acquire a Bren Ten some day. I didn’t know of it’s existence until you and Doc posted replies.
The CHEAPEST one I saw was Priced at $2,500.00 USD. I don’t think your going to find one Cheaper than that…
Yes I noticed last night that they were quite expensive, so I just need to add it to my wish list for when my financial situation changes.
And there’s also the STI Perfect 10, which you can get brand new for about the same price.
The 1911 is a great handgun.
The Single Action Army is a wonderful handgun, and everyone should have a chance to fire one. You may be amazed at the difference between a Colt and the copes.
The Smith and Wesson revolvers are a masterpiece.
The Beretta is useful as far as it goes but hardly deserves space with the others.
The Buckmark is an inexpensive plinker, not exactly a great gun for much save training youngsters.
Change the Beretta and the Smith to colt python and to Smith performance center model 629. Shoot booth of those and you’ll be robbing your kids piggy bank leaving an IOU knot to buy them! Tell them it’ll be an inheritance for them! It’s a reach!
Re: you like of the Browning Buckmark and its ability to feel “good” when you shoot it, brings back the old grip angle issue that we have beaten to death on this forum.
Besides your issues with Ruger and their Mark .22cal pistols, two others that you did not mention, which have similar grip angles are the Beretta U22 Neos, which has received many good reviews and the older but still great HiStandard supermatic series that won the 1968 Olympics. I still have mine from the 60’s and will never part with it!
Looks like I’m good to go.
I’m not sure I understand. Are you talking about Ruger handguns or everything they sell? And when did this happen? And are you saying a person has to be a licenced dealer to buy Ruger things? A few more details, please.
Ruger requires face-to-face purchases of their firearms; meaning you can only buy them in a retail store. However, Cheaper Than Dirt! still sells Ruger accessories: http://ow.ly/UOK3O
Contact Ruger’s customer service http://www.ruger.com/footer/contact.html# and let them know you would like to be able to buy Ruger firearms online.
My S & W has the smooothest action of any gun I’ve ever owned. My American Western Arms Colt SA copy is the second best action–ever. Love the “Shooter’s Log.”
Cz-75 way over the Beretta, Ruger Mark series over the Buckmark. 1911, SAA and .357 are cool.
I think a Hi-Power would be in there somewhere close to 5 if you extended the list to 10.
Guess, I can check these off of my ‘bucket list’, of guns I must shoot before I die. Have shot and/or owned all these at one time or another. What I would like to see next is a list of 5 must fire submachine guns, before you die. Would like to see where I stand on that list. The Skorpion, Pphs, Sten,
M-3 Grease-gun, Thompson, M-40, are some that I have fired and some have used in combat. So, Shooter’s Log, please, lets see a list of must shoot sub-guns.
How does Ruger make it hard to sell their guns to some retailers?
Ruger no longer allows third party shipments. If you do not purchase from Ruger directly, you may not carry its products.
@ Suzanne Wiley.
Actually, it’s a “Oxymoron”! You STILL Have to Pick-Up the Firearm from A Ruger Authorized Representative. And STILL Provide ID Upon Pick-Up. Plus, Ruger Reserves the Right’s to Share Purchasing Information with Other Ruger Affiliates…